BA Newsletter: Get Analysis, Rankings Delivered To Your Inbox!

The Youngest Players On Each Team's Instructional League Roster

Moises Hernandez Billmitchell
Moises Hernandez (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Instructional leagues are underway in Arizona and Florida. Some teams are playing games against other clubs, others are doing intrasquads only, while still others are doing targeted camps aimed toward improving without game reps.

One of the most intriguing things about these rosters is simply who got invited. This isn’t minor league spring training, where virtually everybody in a system is on hand. Instead, the rosters are limited to some of the brighter—and usually younger—prospects in a given system.

RELATED: See instructional league rosters for every team

There may be exceptions for players who’ve come over via trade during the season, others who missed time with injury and a handful warming up before heading to the Arizona Fall League.

It can be instructive, too, to take a look at the youngest players in each group, particularly those without much or any experience outside of the complex leagues in Arizona, Florida and the Dominican Republic.

With that in mind, here are the youngest players from each team’s instructional league roster, sorted from youngest to oldest.

Rangers

Gleider Figuereo, SS
DOB: June 27, 2004

Figuereo is a projectable shortstop with baseball bloodlines (his father also played in the Rangers’ system) who as an amateur showed feel to hit with the potential to grow into lefthanded power, albeit with the possibility of moving off shortstop. In the DSL, Figuereo worked nearly as many walks (28) as strikeouts (31) and showed hints of extra-base power, with a third of his 36 hits going for extra bases.

Reds

Leonardo Balcazar, SS
DOB: June 17, 2004

Balcazar, who is part of the Reds’ strength-development camp, has the chops to stick at shortstop in the long run, with solid hands, feet and a strong arm. His six home runs placed him in a three-way tie for third place among 17-year-olds playing in the Dominican Summer League.

Cubs

Pedro Ramirez, SS
DOB: April 1, 2004

Ramirez is a burner whose speed could help him stick at shortstop or eventually be put to good use in center field. A switch-hitter with a swing geared for line drives, Ramirez’s .359 average ranked third in the Dominican Summer League, and his 70 hits paced the circuit.

Red Sox

Miguel Bleis, OF
DOB: March 1, 2004

Bleis was the Red Sox’s top signing in the most recent international class, prized for his outstanding tool set and projectability. He has speed, power and a strong throwing arm, all of which could make him an asset on both sides of the ball in center field. He produced a .751 OPS with four home runs in 2021.

Athletics

Moises Hernandez, RHP
DOB: Feb. 20, 2004

Hernandez signed out of Venezuela on the strength of a fastball which had already touched 94 mph. He backed up the fastball with a slider and changeup. Stuff aside, Hernandez ran into big-time control issues this year in the DSL, where he walked 20 hitters in 5.1 innings.

Blue Jays
Yhoangel Aponte, OF
DOB: Feb. 12, 2004

As an amateur, Aponte showed hints of having five tools which projected as at least average, as well as the instincts to make them play up even further. He showed a strong knowledge of the strike zone in his first pro season, producing a .393 on-base percentage in the DSL.

Indians

Robert Lopez, C
DOB: Jan. 2, 2004

Lopez was one of the top Venezuelan backstop prospects available in his class. He showed the chops to stick behind the plate, an arm that was getting stronger and a combination of contact skills and power from the left side. He hit a pair of home runs in his first crack at pro ball in the DSL.

Royals
Daniel Vazquez, SS
DOB: Dec. 15, 2003

A growth spurt helped Vazquez jump up boards as an amateur, especially because his defensive tools did not diminish with his added size. He has a line drive-friendly stroke and an all-fields approach, but struggled somewhat in his professional debut. In the DSL, Vazquez hit one home run and produced a .544 OPS.

Padres

Victor Lizarraga, RHP
DOB: Nov. 30, 2003

One of the few players on this list to make their pro debuts at a level higher than the DSL, Lizarraga spent the year instead in the Rookie-level Arizona Complex League. A projectable righthander, Lizarraga was lauded as an amateur for his combination of present stuff and projectability, and he finished the season with 35 punchouts in 30 innings. He was particularly strong in the season’s final month, when he whiffed 13 over 8.1 scoreless frames.

Braves

Ambioris Tavarez, SS
DOB: Nov. 12, 2003

Tavarez is the only player on this list yet to make his pro debut, which was likely because the Braves did not field a team in the Dominican Summer League. He has a projectable frame, big bat speed and an arm strong enough to stick at shortstop. He was one of the Braves’ first high-dollar signings after their international penalties over the last few years were loosened.

Angels

Leonard Garcia, RHP
DOB: Aug. 11, 2003

Garcia is a projectable righthander who skipped over the DSL and made his professional debut in the Arizona Complex League, where he pitched most of the year as a 17-year-old. Despite his age, Garcia led his team in innings (40.1) and tied for the lead in strikeouts (48). He was particularly sharp in September, when he whiffed 14 hitters in 10.2 innings.

Shane Baz Durham Brianwesterholt

Rays Minor League Affiliates Establish A Major New Benchmark

New research by Baseball-Reference indicates that Rays domestic minor league affiliates won at an unprecedented rate in the modern era of the minor leagues.

Nationals

T.J. White, OF
DOB: July 23, 2003

White has massive raw power—some scouts went as high as double-plus when White was an amateur—and a decent amount of hittability as well. His below-average speed likely limits him to a corner outfield spot, or possibly first base if he slows down even more. He showed off his power in the Florida Complex League with four home runs in just 15 games.

Phillies

Jordan Viars, OF
DOB: July 18, 2003

Viars doesn’t have much projection left, but his hulking frame should produce the requisite thump for a corner outfield spot. His leveraged swing and strength helped him bop three home runs in the Florida Complex League, where he walked nearly as many times (11) as he struck out (12).

Twins

Joseph Yabbour, RHP
DOB: July 9, 2003

Yabbour, who is cousins with Braves superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña and Rangers infielder Luisangel Acuña, was the top arm in Minnesota’s international signing class. His fastball was up to 94 by the end of last year’s Dominican instructional league, but he did not make his official pro debut in 2021.

Astros

Hector Nieves, SS
DOB: July 8, 2003

Nieves was the second-best prospect available out of Puerto Rico in 2021, and the 6-foot-3, 185-pound shortstop earned the highest bonus in the 19th round at $180,000. Nieves got his feet wet in the FCL after signing, and he hit two home runs in 26 games.

Rays

Carson Williams, SS
DOB: June 25, 2003

Initially, teams preferred Williams as a pitcher, but a late burst of strength helped make him one of the most coveted prospects as a position player. He has big-time power, but scouts were split on how well he would hit as a pro. Williams performed well in an 11-game turn in the FCL, where he went 11-for-39 with four doubles and a triple.

Rockies

Victor Juarez, RHP
DOB: June 19, 2003

The Rockies gave Juarez the second-highest bonus in his signing class, behind only infielder Adael Amador. Juarez earned that money on the strength of a three-pitch mix and solid strike-throwing ability. He has some projection remaining, lending hope to the idea that his fastball could jump up a few ticks as he matures. He whiffed 47 and walked just seven in 36.2 innings split between the DSL and the ACL.

Tigers

Roberto Campos, OF
DOB: June 14, 2003

Campos is already one of the most intriguing prospects in the Tigers’ system, and he showed plenty of power in his first test as a pro. The Cuban slugger slammed eight home runs in the FCL, which tied him for third place in the league. There is a fair amount of swing and miss in his game, but he recognizes spin well and could learn to manage the strike zone better as he gets older.

Mets

Alexander Ramirez, OF
DOB: Jan. 13, 2003

Ramirez is the only player on this list who played a game in full-season ball. In fact, he spent the entire season at Low-A St. Lucie, where he impressed enough with his tool set to rank among the league’s 10 best prospects. He hit enough (.258) to rank fourth among qualifiers in the league, and he showed the instincts to possibly stick in center field. He’s easily one of the Mets’ most intriguing prospects.

White Sox

Cristian Mena, RHP
DOB: Dec. 21, 2002

Mena has emerged as one of the more interesting arms in a system that has thinned following graduations of many of its top young players. The righthander got hit hard in the Arizona Complex League, but still managed to whiff 62 in 48.1 innings. He has a low-90s fastball and feel for spin, and could improve his command if he irons out some kinks in his delivery.

Are you a member?

In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account. 

Login or sign up  


Additionally, you can subscribe to Baseball America's newsletter and receive all of our rankings, analysis, prospect insight & more delivered to your inbox every day. Click here to get started. 

of Free Stories Remaining